Water fluoridation is a hot topic these days as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently lowered their recommendation for fluoride in public water supplies, inducing a change in policy across the nation as communities scramble to update their fluoride-dispersing equipment.
It’s taken more than four years for the HHS to officially lower their recommendation on fluoride levels, which dropped from 1.2 parts per million to a maximum of 0.7ppm.
The switch came as a result of a revised risk assessment study that found two out of five adolescents have dental fluorosis, a condition in which tooth enamel begins to decay, causing streaking, spottiness and some pitting.
Other more serious adverse health effects include neurological impairment, disruption of the thyroid gland, lower IQs and brittle bones and fractures.
Government issues conflicting recommendations on fluoride
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is actually the entity in charge of regulating fluoride (and does a lousy job at it), has an enforceable (and outrageous) allowable limit of 4.0ppm. EPA also has a secondary standard of 2.0ppm that is recommended but not enforceable.
The EPA’s high limits for fluoride allow cities like Austin, Texas to point out that they’re well within the recommended limit when fluoridating the water at 0.7ppm.
The EPA isn’t the only agency giving conflicting information on fluoride. In 2006, the American Dental Association (ADA), one of the biggest supporters of water fluoridation, warned that infants are especially susceptible to the harm caused by fluoride.
“If liquid concentrate or powdered infant formula is the primary source of nutrition, it can be mixed with water that is fluoride free or contains low levels of fluoride to reduce the risk of fluorosis,” said the ADA in 2006.
But now the agency says, “it is safe” to give infants formula mixed with fluoride.
“Yes, it is safe to use fluoridated water to mix infant formula,” according to ada.org. “If your baby is primarily fed infant formula, using fluoridated water might increase the chance for mild enamel fluorosis, but enamel fluorosis does not affect the health of your child or the health of your child’s teeth.”
For a dental association to say that enamel fluorosis does not affect a child’s health is completely reckless and irresponsible. View photos of dental fluorosis here.
After insisting it’s safe to give infants fluoridated water, the ADA then recommends that mothers “[U]se powdered or liquid concentrate formula mixed with water that either is fluoride-free or has low concentrations of fluoride.”
So which is it? It’s either safe for infants, or it isn’t. It seems that the government couldn’t be more mixed up on this issue. If water fluoridation is designed to protect against tooth decay, but new studies show it actually causes tooth decay, how can proponents continue to justify it?
Turns out they really can’t, or at least not in Austin.
On June 17, the Austin Public Utilities Committee placed on their agenda a resolution to consider ending water fluoridation, thanks to Councilmen Don Zimmerman, who instigated the item to be discussed.
Two City of Austin employees did a poor job at defending water fluoridation as they struggled to make their points, looking fearful and confused as they referenced outdated information.
On the opposing side, anti-fluoridation activists presented powerful testimony that perfectly articulated the dangers associated with water fluoridation, backing their claims with a multitude of clearly listed sources.
After both sides gave their testimony, it was the committee’s responsibility to vote whether or not to pass the measure on to be heard by the Austin City Council, which could then either end or maintain water fluoridation.
Unable to reach an agreement, the Public Utilities Committee voted to bring back the measure in August, where they will hopefully be able to reach an agreement on whether or not the action item should be heard by the Austin City Council.